After a thrilling win against Florida to end the regular season, the Kentucky Wildcats’ focus has shifted to the SEC Tournament in Nashville and the availability of Ashton Hagans. On this morning’s SEC Teleconference, John Calipari gave an update on his starting point guard.
“I haven’t talked to him,” said Calipari of Hagans. “My hope is we’ll talk today or tomorrow, and I think he’ll be fine. Whether I start him or not, I don't know. I just want him to be healthy and in a great frame of mind.
Hagans has faced a ton of scrutiny because of his play over the last few weeks. It hit a climax following the loss to Tennessee after he struggled again and reportedly got into it with the coaching staff. Hagans then met with Calipari sometime prior to the team’s departure to Gainesville and asked to step away for personal reasons. This was all announced about 15 minutes before tipoff against the Gators.
The Wildcats snuck out the win against Florida, but Hagans was noticeably missing and it was a cloud that was hanging over the team despite the incredible comeback. When asked about Hagans’ SEC Tournament status in the postgame press conference, Calipari said he would “fully expect” Ashton to be ready.
“I would fully expect him to be. But I haven’t talked to him, so I’ll probably talk to him Monday sometime,” said Calipari. “It’s personal. He just, you know, he came up and said, ‘I’m in a bad way’. These kids, what they do — my first responsibility is the health and well-being of my players. And when a guy tells me, ‘Coach, I’ve gotta step away,’ I’m with it.”
Hagans was posting support for his team on his social media throughout the game on Saturday, which is a good sign to suggest he hasn’t given up and isn’t done for the year. If Kentucky can get a re-energized and refocused Ashton Hagans back in the mix, their chances of success in Nashville and in the NCAA Tournament go through the roof.
With Calipari’s radio show tonight at 6 p.m. ET and a press conference on Thursday prior to their quarterfinal matchup on Friday, we won’t have to wait too long for an update on Hagans.